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Research in Motion launches Torch Smartphone as security issues in Middle East heat up

Research in Motion launches Torch Smartphone as security issues in Middle East heat up

Canada`s own Research in Motion (RIM)(TSX:RIM, NASDAQ:RIMM) has had quite a day in the press as its ongoing dispute with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) continues to make front headlines, alongside the company`s launch of its new BlackBerry handset - the Torch.

Despite the UAE debacle, the company`s shares were actually up this morning by 1% as investors weigh up the risks associated with the situation, taking note of the fact that the UAE is actually a relatively minor market for the Smartphone maker. However, by lunch time shares in RIM were heading south, falling 2.5%.

There are reports, however, that UAE`s demands are having a spill over effect to other countries. Kuwait has become the latest to demand concessions from the technology company. The Muslim nation has reportedly asked RIM to block a list of 3,000 pornographic websites on its devices within the country. Another report suggests that RIM has reached an agreement to allow Indian security agencies to monitor BlackBerry communication traffic.

The UAE has complained for months now that communication on Blackberry’s is not monitored by local authorities.

Over the weekend, the government ordered state telecom carriers to disable BlackBerry services such as email and the Smartphone’s messenger system if RIM did not comply with its demands. Both the US State Department and the Canadian government have sided with the tech company.

The Smartphone maker has had to keep attentions diverted from the UAE problem today, as to keep its competitive edge against industry players such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), RIM has responded with the unveiling of its new BlackBerry Torch Smartphone and the BlackBerry 6, the latest version of its operating system.  The Torch features a redesigned interface that works with a touch screen and track pad, expanded messaging capabilities that simplify managing social media and RSS feeds, a new Universal Search tool and a new WebKit-based browser.

"BlackBerry 6 is the outcome of RIM's ongoing passion to deliver a powerful, simplified and optimized user experience for both touch screen and keyboard fans," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-ceo, Research In Motion.

BlackBerry 6 will debut on the new BlackBerry Torch Smartphone available from AT&T on August 12 and it is also designed to run on select BlackBerry Smartphone’s already in market. Subject to carrier certifications in the months ahead, the new operating system is expected to be available for the BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Bold 9650 and BlackBerry Pearl 3G, as well as future BlackBerry Smartphone’s.

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